Idaho man charged with trying to assassinate Obama

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BOISE, Idaho (AP) — An Idaho man accused of firing an assault rifle at the White House believed he was Jesus and thought President Barack Obama was the Antichrist, according to court documents and those who knew him. At one point, he even suggested to an acquaintance the president was planning to implant computer tracking chips into children.

Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, 21, was charged Thursday with attempting to assassinate the president or his staff. He is accused of firing nine rounds at the White House last Friday night — one of them cracking a window of the first family's living quarters — when Obama and the first lady were away. If convicted, Ortega faces up to life in prison.

Ortega was arrested Wednesday at a western Pennsylvania hotel when a desk clerk there recognized him and called police.

Ortega's public defender, Christopher Brown, declined comment after his first court hearing in Pennsylvania. Ortega's mother has said he has no history of mental illness, though when authorities were looking for him, they reported he had "mental health issues."

In Idaho Falls, where Ortega is from, a computer consultant told The Associated Press that the two met July 8 after Ortega asked for help editing a 30-minute infomercial. Monte McCall said that during the meeting at Ortega's family's Mexican restaurant, Ortega pulled out worn sheets of yellow paper with handwritten notes and started to talk about his predictions that the world would end in 2012.

"He said, 'Well, you know the president is getting ready to make an announcement that they're going to put GPS chips in all the children, so they're safe,'" McCall said. "... And then he said, 'That's just what the Antichrist is going to do to mark everybody.'"

Kimberly Allen, the mother of Ortega's former fiancée, said he had been well-mannered and kind in the four years she had known him. But he recently began making statements to her daughter that were out of character, including that he believed he was Jesus. Allen said the family was worried when he went to Utah recently, where he said he had business, and didn't come back. Ortega's family reported him missing Oct. 31.

Allen said they were flabbergasted to hear he was wanted in Washington.

"I believe that the boy needs help," said Allen, of Shelley, Idaho.

Her daughter, Jessica Galbraith, was engaged to Ortega and is the mother of their 2-year-old son. She declined to comment Thursday except to say: "I love him, and I'm here for him."

It was unclear why or when they split.

Reached by the AP on Thursday, Ortega's mother said she didn't have anything to say. She earlier told the Post Register in Idaho Falls her son has no history of mental illness.

"He has different ideas than other people, just like everyone, but he was perfectly fine the last time I saw him," Maria Hernandez told the newspaper. "He might be saying weird stuff that sounds crazy, but that doesn't mean (he) is crazy. He might be confused and scared."

At his first appearance in court in Pennsylvania, Ortega sat quietly, his hands free but his feet shackled. He said only, "Yes, ma'am" when he was asked if he understood that he would be going back to Washington to face the charge.

According to a court document released after the hearing, authorities recovered nine spent shell casings from Ortega's car, which was found abandoned near the White House shortly after the shooting. An assault rifle with a scope was found inside.

A person who knows him subsequently told investigators that he had become increasingly agitated with the federal government and was convinced it was conspiring against him, the document said. Others told investigators that Ortega had reportedly said Obama was the Antichrist and the "devil." Ortega also apparently said he "needed to kill" the president.

Authorities said Ortega was clad in black when he pulled his car within view of the White House on Friday night, fired shots and then sped away. The White House has not said whether the Obamas' daughters, Sasha and Malia, were there at the time or commented on the shooting.

Ortega was questioned by police on Friday morning, before the shootings, just across the Potomac River from Washington in Arlington, Va. Police said they stopped him after a report of suspicious behavior, but let him go after photographing him because they had no reason to make an arrest.

Ortega has an arrest record in three states but has not been linked to any radical organizations, U.S. Park Police have said.

This is not the first time the White House has come under attack.

In the last 40 years, the landmark has faced threats ranging from a stolen helicopter that landed on the grounds in 1974 to a man who wielded a sawed-off shotgun on a sidewalk outside in 1984. In 1994 alone, there were five threats including a plane crash on the lawn and a suspected drive-by shooting. Another man fired at least 29 rounds from a semiautomatic weapon, with 11 striking the White House.

Dan Bongino, a former Secret Service agent who served on the presidential details for Obama and President George W. Bush, said Friday's shooting would likely mean tighter security and coordination.

"They do an exhaustive review of their security procedures every time something like this happens," said Bongino, who recently left the Secret Service to run for U.S. Senate in Maryland. "Nothing ever works perfectly. They will undress this completely and then they will find out when they rebuild the incident exactly what they could have done better."

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Comments

davidbowieonwheels 3 years, 1 month ago

Wow, good point, I hadn't thought about it that way because I filter information too efficiently. I feel bad that the public school system failed you so horribly and that you somehow still figured out how to access the www. So you widely support the idea that Obama should be killed? Fascinating. I'd love to hear more.

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davidbowieonwheels 3 years, 1 month ago

As pretentious as you may be, I will not be voting for him in the next election. Unlike you however, I'm not the slightest bit interested in seeing him murdered.

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Brian Kotowski 3 years, 1 month ago

Threatening a sitting President is a D felony, punishable by 5 years and a $250K fine. ranger520 is merely exercising his First Amendment rights. Anonymously. A most impressive profile in courage. It would be even more impressive if he announced who he is. He won't, of course.

Some might call that cowardice.

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Brian Kotowski 3 years, 1 month ago

To the Craig Daily Press: it might be prudent to have your legal department evaluate any exposure you may face by allowing a participant here advocate violence against the President.

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McGruber 3 years, 1 month ago

Its pretty easy to forward this link to the secret service. So easy it was just done.

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netee 3 years ago

just amazes me we teach our children to respect...whether you disagree or agree with the man he is a human being and to compare him to mercy killing a horse with a broken leg is just sick! like him or not I am not saying he is wonderful but he is the President of the United States of America and deserves our respect ....I did not like George for the last 8 years we had him but I never wished him dead and I respected him as my president elected by popular vote whether it reflected mine or not!!

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Brian Kotowski 3 years ago

I believe BHO to be the worst President of my lifetime. Quite an accomplishment, as I never anticipated that Jimmy Carter could ever be eclipsed in that regard. Regardless, I've never wished that either man be killed.

That ranger520 believes anything short of murder or assassination="pay[ing] homage" speaks volumes about his intellect and mental hygiene. And none of it complimentary.

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Brian Kotowski 3 years ago

Well, let's see... your immediate response to the report of a whackjob's attempt to murder the President is: "Too bad he missed."

When other participants to the discussion spotlight your bloodlust, you snivel that those disagree with your sadism are "pay[ing] homage..." to the man you'd like to see murdered.

Is English your second language, or are you merely an idiot?

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netee 3 years ago

I am not saying agree with him I am not saying sing his praises but respect human life. As for the Pledge and National Anthem I watched a basketball game outside on a carrier in which he was in attendance he not only had his hand over his heart but also sang....I am not going to argue but I also believe that if your opinion is if someone doesnt do what you like or agree with them then kill them...you are a scary out of control citizen and I hope my kids and family are never near you in anyway.

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Brian Kotowski 3 years ago

Wow, ranger520. What a stunning riposte. I don't think I've been so flabbergasted since I heard Pee Wee Herman proclaim "I know you are, but what am I?"

Most impressive! You're in good company, my friend.

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justoncrack 3 years ago

Not that the Secret Service needs help, but I'd suggest that als362, ranger520 and Allen Hischke are all the same guy. Just saying...

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Brian Kotowski 3 years ago

ranger520:

I've not been here long enough to know who you are. Why don't you "grow some", here and now, and attach your identity to your contention that the President is an injured animal whose brains should be blown out?

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Brian Kotowski 3 years ago

I didn't think so. So much for being "not afraid that people know" who he is.

It's becoming somewhat of a challenge to take ranger520 seriously, and to regard him as anything other than a malignant, childish hypocrite.

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Brian Kotowski 3 years ago

ranger520 asserts he's “not afraid that people know” who he is. He has nonetheless failed to post his name here. I'm sure it's just an oversight, which I am happy to rectify: Allen Hischke. ranger520 claims in another thread that that's his name. Mr. Hischke in the Craig phone book, for anyone interested in his contact info.

No need to thank me, Allen. It's all part of the service.

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dogfan 3 years ago

Brian_Kotowski everyone that reads this knows who ranger is. Is this your real name or are you really Donald the only Kotowski in the phone book that lives in Steamboat?

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Brian Kotowski 3 years ago

dogfan:

My full name is Donald Brian Burnett Kotowski. What's yours? And yes, that's me in the Steamboat book. You must be consulting an old one, as I've long since moved out to the county.

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curious_reader12 3 years ago

I think it's ridiculous how an article can spark such an immature argument between people. Everyone has beliefs and opinions and everyone is entitled to their own. When people fight over public forums its rather rude. The insults are jsut as bad. If you feel as though you and another person should discuss your differing opinions, please do so on your own time in a more mature manner.

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Brian Kotowski 3 years ago

I think it's ridiculous that someone is so sanctimonious to presume to dictate what others should discuss, and how they should go about it. Please indulge your self-righteous conceit on your own time.

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curious_reader12 3 years ago

I just believe that if you are willing to argue your opinion with someone else's opinion, you should at least have enough dignity to do it in private. Throwing snide comments over the internet is no way to express your beliefs. In some cases, it just makes you look ignorant.

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Brian Kotowski 3 years ago

And yet, here you are, doing exactly what you decry. Hypocrite much? That you are unable to grasp the concept of a public forum to such an extent that you believe its deliberations should be “private” is absolutely breathtaking. And a little pathetic.

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curious_reader12 3 years ago

How am I arguing? I'm just stating that it's unnecessary to have a heated argument over a public forum. A calm argument is understandable but when it leads to people cutting other people down I think that it should end. And I'm not pathetic. I'm rational and logical.

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Brian Kotowski 3 years ago

So: calling me "ridiculous" an "ignorant", and insisting that "argument" in a public forum should be "private" is something other than "rational and logical" and "immature." Thanks for clearing that up.

I, at least, am willing to stand behind every assertion I make with who I really am. Why aren't you?

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